Snowflex vs. Indoor Snow

by Fraser

Which is better? Which is better for you? Which would you build if you had a choice? Snowflex or indoor snow?

We got a letter through the door last week that included a survey regarding some improvements to the Stadium close to where we live. They’re thinking about building a new “Sports Village”, possibly including an indoor snow slope, and they wanted to find out what people were interested in…

My first thought was cool, that would be handy. Then I started wondering what the slope would be like, and then, would I actually prefer an indoor slope or a snowflex slope?


Indoor Snow



Which is better? I’m certain that for people learning to ski or snowboard, indoor snow is better. It’s closer to the real thing; more accurate. Easier? Probably.

But then, I’ve never learned to snowboard on snowflex before, so I wouldn’t know how different the experience is. But what about once you’ve stopped just learning? For most people, a 150m slope doesn’t really cut it for giving them a fast carving experience. It’s not steep and it’s not long. It’s nothing like the real thing.

So what about for freestyle? I know there are a couple of indoor half-pipes in Europe, which by all accounts, are pretty damn good. I don’t see anyone in the UK being forward-thinking enough to go for something like that. No, I’m thinking about our current freestyle offerings in the UK; I’m contrasting something like the Halifax slope with something like the freestyle night at Castleford.

For me, snowflex wins. The kickers are better. End of story. I’d agree that it’s easier to build a challenging and varied jib setup on an indoor snow slope, but that doesn’t mean a good jib setup for snowflex is out of the question, given the space…

And that’s my point. Those indoor snow slopes are so expensive to run. The little of what I’ve read/been told, suggests that the slopes themselves suck money out of the big centres; by themselves, they’d lose money. It’s only the shops and the cinemas and the restaurants that make the whole thing profitable.

What if you had one of these big recreational parks, like Xscape at Castleford, but instead of an indoor slope you had a really well polished snowflex slope? Aim for the best one built to date. Surely they’re much cheaper to build and maintain? You could have a slope for just riding and then a slope purely for freestyle. A kicker line; a jib park. Flood-lit. Fast.

The only snowflex slope that I’ve been to is stuck out in the fields at the top of a big hill. As far as other attractions go, there’s a soft play area for kids and a small pub. The sprinklers don’t work. If it’s a dry day you need to bring your own washing up liquid for lubrication. And it’s still great!

How much attention would a snowflex slope get if it was right in the middle of a large leisure & shopping complex? If it was marketed like the indoor snow slopes are? With a significant investment, how good could it be?

I accept that my view is heavily biased toward freestyle facilities. I also accept that I don’t really know anything about the revenue plans for these businesses, and how important the concept of real snow is to the overall picture.

But putting that to one side, if someone was going to invest a large amount of money into a slope, right on my doorstep, I’d choose a well planned, well designed snowflex slope. Wrap it up with some restaurants and bars, some decent snowboarding shops, an indoor skate park, build a scene. But definitely give me those perfect jumps, every time!

What would you pick?

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